You do not necessarily need Medicare if still working, but in some circumstances it would be beneficial.
First, let's take a look at eligibility requirements for Parts A and B. If all of the statements below are true, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (premium free) and Part B at age 65, whether working or not. (Note: everyone pays a premium for Part B).
Eligibility requirements include the following:
- You need to have worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) under Medicare-covered employment or your spouse needs to have worked 10 years.
- You need to have paid Medicare taxes during the 10 years that you worked.
- You must be 65 years of age.
- You must be an American citizen or permanent legal resident for at least five continuous years.
Delaying Enrollment if Still Working at 65
If you haven't worked 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes, you will be unable to receive Medicare Part A without paying a premium. Part B always includes a premium. In this case, you can delay enrollment if you already have health insurance through your employer or your spouse's employer.
Using Medicare to Supplement Employer-based Insurance
Sometimes an employer-based health plan does not cover expenses that Medicare does. In this case, an individual may choose to keep the employer-based insurance and also elect to use Medicare Part A, Part B or both. To make this determination, it is a good idea to discuss your options with your employer or union benefits administrator.
Special Enrollment Period
Those who are 65 or older and declined to use Medicare while still working can enroll in Medicare during a Special Enrollment Period. You will have an eight-month Special Enrollment Period to sign up. The special period begins when you stop working or your group coverage ends.
Late Enrollment Penalties
Failure to sign up for Medicare when first eligible, and if you don't have other coverage, could result in a late-enrollment penalty when you do enroll. This penalty applies to Medicare Part B (and Part A, if paying a premium for it).
Some people have reason to use COBRA when employment ends and before using Medicare. If you are one of these individuals, be sure to enroll in Medicare before COBRA coverage ends. If you do not enroll in Medicare Part A and/or Part B during the Special Enrollment Period, you will need to wait until the next General Enrollment Period which takes place between January 1 and March 31. This could result in a late-enrollment penalty.
Need Help Finding a Medicare Plan?
For help finding a Medicare plan, try our Medicare Cost Revealer. If you have any questions, please contact Medicare at any time at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY users 1-877-486-2048).